More on the Arrested Sociologists

The case of the Berlin-based sociologists, which I posted about last week, has gotten more attention. A website has been created to call for a halt to the criminal investigation, complete with an open letter from other sociologists. In the UK Guardian, Richard Sennett and Saskia Sassen write:

Dr [Andrej] Holm was arrested, flown by helicopter to the German federal court in Karlsruhe and has since been put in (pre-trial) solitary confinement in a Berlin jail. Of course the police may have solid, rational knowledge they are withholding, but their public statements belong more in the realm of farce. Dr Matthias B is alleged to have used, in his academic publications, "phrases and key words" which are also used by a militant group; among these words are "inequality" and "gentrification". The police found it suspicious that meetings took place with German social activists in which our sociologists did not bring their mobile phones; somehow the police deemed this a sign of "conspiratorial behaviour". By an odd twist, though, none of the activists are in jail, only their sociological interviewers.

I don’t have much to add, except that the grounds for arrest that have so far been made public in the arrest warrant do seem flimsy, and that most of the sociologists I know wouldn’t hurt a fly (even though there’s a movie about Pierre Bourdieu called "Sociology is a Martial Art"). Speaking sociologically, I would draw attention to the cognitive distortions contained in many of the comments posted underneath Sennett and Sassen’s piece in the Guardian, though.

One thought on “More on the Arrested Sociologists

  1. gentrification – maybe a specific word, but inequality… that’s ridiculous. I better look out for police myself, for I’ve used “inequality” in some of my class exercises and my English teacher does teach social science as well. OMG! I’ll be hiding in my cellar until my neighbourhood is gentrificated…

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